Cradshaw sat there with the phone in his shaking hand. On the floor of his office he pushed himself against the wall as if it was his lifeline.
Outside, beyond the frosted glass of his office door, was the pillar.
The pillar was crystal, the purest of any he’d ever seen before, rooted from the laboratory’s metal floor to the ceiling’s heights where it stretched out, blossoming like a glass tree.
He wasn’t sure if they were going to take the idea seriously, so the call to the police was an utter lie. Talking crystal, speaking glass, conscious crystalline solid. Even in his own head it was absolute insanity.
Yet out there in the very next room, calling out to him as if it wondered where he’d gone. On the phone he’d said it was an explosive. He’d made a false threat against the university in order to save them. He had no idea how he was saving them yet knew that they needed saving.
Cradshaw felt trapped. He was trapped. The idea of even leaving this room forced himself into cowering under the desk. He wasn’t sure if the smell was urine or the faint salt that gathered at the door. That salt that suddenly snapped into ice, forming the sharp, glasslike tendrils that searched and probed for him, like the blind in darkness.
+ + +
Everything was a sudden blur of information that passed him by. Forced from his desktop by hazmat suits Pedroe and his colleagues were pushed down the stairs seconds after the fire alarm pierced the air with a bells in every instance that blurred into one, immediate moment.
He barely saw the faces in the plastic when he’d vainly asked what on Earth was going on.
Out on the street the wind gusted into his sides to remind him that he’d left his coat and jacket upstairs. Clutching his sides to protect against the cold he looked around him to try and find a supervisor, his boss, or anyone who could give him some answer. Everything seemed to be happening at once yet nothing was telling him what it was that forced him outside, into New Manchester’s cold winter streets.
Every immediate building rang their fire alarms. Sirens, screaming throughout the background, wailed above the hustling ambience of the city. Smears of yellow and green, red and silver, white and checkers of emergency services flashed past the group who was now being pushed like cattle, merging into other groups from other buildings. Only then Pedroe noticed that the hazmat suits held long, black items – the unmistakable silhouettes of firearms. A scream punctured the air behind him, and there above the crowd he could only hear the shouting of outrage and confusion.
Then came the black helicopters above hovering above the towering buildings, and at this point everything new was a fresh strike to his face. Pedroe attempted to correlate what he could see and hear into one solid conclusion, some kind of theory, and the shock as he saw the huge, black van and the people around him, colleagues, friends and strangers alike being herded inside, was a sudden kick to his teeth.
There was a roar of slow realisation amongst the crowd, murmurations that rose into cascades of fear and anger came to force, but as if they were cattle that somehow realise their fate in the abbatoir they tried to thrash against their captives. The first wave of resistance was vocalised. Immediately after it had become physical, violent blows flew against the hazmat units and the plastic shields that deployed to pen them in.
It was useless. People were thrown, struck with the stocks of weapons and punished for their useless struggles.
Before him crawled a crying man with blood streaming from a gash in his temple, trying to defend himself against the crowd that pushed him into the floor. Pedroe tried to stand against the threshold of the van, trying to halt the tide of bodies. Hand in the doorway and foot on the edge he pushed against the black interior. A flash of pain from an unknown source against his stomach forced the wind from his lungs. Suddenly gasping for air Pedroe instinctively turned his face to the sky and swallowed the now hot air.
He saw the towering buildings above him. He felt another man’s nails raking his face in desperation, and briefly Pedroe saw the flash of the butt of a gun he’d never seen before.
– by Kier Sparey
© Copyright Kier Sparey 2015